Mechanical genders: how do humans gender robots?
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This paper discusses the concept of ‘mechanical genders’ by using robots as a case. Different aspects of robotic gender, or the lack of it are described, showing how some robots have an ‘anything is fine’ gender, where the user decides what gender their robot should have. This is often seen with zoomorphic robots, i.e. animal-looking robots, which in a gender notion seem to be more gender-neutral than their android counterparts. The paper emphasizes how difficult it can be to not gender robots in a Western language context, where robots often need gendered pronouns if they are to be discussed, and shows comparatively how gender can be less important in the Japanese language. Additionally, heavily gendered robots are discussed, defining ‘mechanical genders’ as a concept used to speak about the genders of robots, and see this in relation to established human gender definitions. The paper discusses gender in robots such as Pepper, the robot twin ‘Matsukoroid’ (a trans-robot with his/her/its own TV-show), and sex-robots, as well as gender for cyborgs. The aim of the paper is to show how our mechanical species of robots are affected by the gendering habits of humans. It finds that the more humanlike a robot becomes, the more gendered it becomes.